The Flash’s second season came to a close with a lot of emotion behind it. With the stakes higher than ever, Barry had to find a way to defeat Zoom without becoming like him in the process. Filled with sorrow and anger over his father’s death, Barry struggled with how far he’s willing to go to finally stop Zoom to protect the rest of his family. And as he focus all of his attention on ending Zoom, there is an underlining theme throughout the episode on if it is for revenge, or to save the multiverse. Zoom successfully destroys Barry emotionally by the end of the episode. In a sense, he ultimately won their back and forward exchange by leaving Barry broken in the end. But the events of the finale will change everything next season. Barry decided to undo a fixed point in his history, and it will surely result in drastic changes to not only his life, but the lives of Team Flash as well. The finale left us questioning what will happen in season three, and how it will affect his timeline. And most importantly, how will it affect the rest of the Arrowverse?
Picking up immediately after Henry’s death, The Flash savagely attacks Zoom. But Zoom proves too difficult to take down, and the two fight across the city. Barry eventually gets the upper hand, but is unable carry out killing Zoom as planned. The version of Zoom he has at his mercy turns out to be a time remnant, and the real Zoom kills him off to demonstrate to Barry that he has to be willing to even murder his own remnant to stop him. Zoom speeds off to leave Barry to contemplate how far he’s willing to go to stop him.
Barry and the rest of the team attend Henry’s funeral. Filled with grief, Barry decides that it’s time for him to finally end Z00m by taking his life. While later processing his grief and consulting in Iris, Zoom shows up to taunt Barry and challenge him to a race. Barry turns him down, but Zoom forces him to accept the challenge by threatening to take away more of Barry’s family and friends if he doesn’t comply with his plan. Barry accepts the race in order to keep his love ones safe, and prepares to finally kill Zoom for good. But Wells, knowing that Zoom never does anything without an ulterior motive, easily figures out that his plan is to use their speed to power a device to destroy the multiverse. And knowing that Barry is acting out of anger than rational thinking, the team comes to the conclusion that Barry isn’t ready to take on zoom.
Tricking Barry and locking him away, the team tries to take Zoom out on their own. The plan was to force him in to Earth-2, and seal him off so that he can’t return. But the plan goes wrong, and Joe is pulled into the vortex along with Zoom. Wally finds out about Zoom taking Joe with him afterwards, and becomes incredibly upset after learning that the team’s plan was to keep the vortex sealed at all cost. Wally frees Barry from his holding cell, and Barry confronts the team for making their decision without his input.
Barry decides to challenge Zoom to the race he wanted in hope that he could stop him before the machine is fully charged. Exposing to Zoom that he is well aware of his intentions beforehand, they race each other and charge the machine while Barry tries to stop him in the process. Barry creates a time remnant of himself that saves Joe from the restraints Zoom placed him in, and moves him to safety. Barry continues trying to stop Zoom before his plan is complete, but is unable to stop him in time before the machine is fully charged. Barry’s time remnant successfully stops the machine at the cost of his own life, and the disruption of the speed force causes time wraiths to appear. The time wraiths drag Zoom off sparing Barry of having to take Zoom’s life, and Zoom can be seen decaying in to what looks like the Black Flash.
Having successfully defeated Zoom without killing him himself, Barry reflects on the emotional damage left behind. The man in the mask is revealed to be the real Jay Garrick, Henry’s doppelganger, and the team says goodbye to Wells, Jesse, and Jay as they travel back to Earth-2. Barry expresses his feelings to Iris while admitting that he needs a little time to heal. They share a kiss, and he looks in on the family before speeding off. Barry runs and travels back in time to the moment his mother is killed and saves her from the Reverse Flash. Seeing another version of himself from season one fade away behind a door, the episode ends with the repercussions of his actions unclear.
What I liked
The acting was as solid as always , but both Barry and Wally’s sorrow shined through the episode. Barry breaking down after losing Henry, and Wally being devastated over losing Joe for a moment were beautifully acted scenes. And at the funeral of Henry Allen, it becomes clear that Barry is too damaged by his death to ever be the same again afterwards. The performance by Grant Gustin in this episode is incredible. He was able to communicate to the audience that he was closer to becoming Zoom than ever without anyone having to actually address it on screen. He was mentally beaten by Zoom, and it was on full display. The ability to communicate that amount of hurt without having to beat the audience over the head with how upset he was is pure talent and great writing.
I also like how they handled Iris and Barry’s relationship. There are a lot of shows that rely on the “will they won’t they” relationship trope. And while the scene between them at the end confirmed that their relationship is not at the next level yet, it also avoided the trope by making it clear that it is a work in progress. It came off less like a tease of if they will eventually be together or not, and more like they are on the same page of Barry needing a little time before they could fully enjoy being together. It’s a refreshing way to keep them separate with a logical reason while still setting up their future relationship.
But the best moment of the episode, hands down, is when The Flash changed the outcome of his mother’s murder. His actions will set off events similar to the Flashpoint comic book storyline for the next season. And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the show to tackle Flashpoint anytime soon. So this was a genuine shock for fans as it will take place in the third season. A story with such scale would normally be reserved for later seasons, but it seems like The Flash is throwing everything they have out in the next season for what will surely be a huge event. If you’re unfamiliar with the Flashpoint storyline, it deals with the affect of Barry saving his mother on the rest of the world. There are serious ramifications to his actions that he was unaware would occur due to her living. I won’t spoil it, and the show will most likely go a different route due to not being able to use certain DC characters, but it’s well worth the read if you’re interested in learning more about it. Also, there is a pretty faithful animated film adaptation available if you’d rather watch that instead.
What I disliked
The episode seemed to struggle with its handling of Zoom. His reasoning for wanting to destroy the multiverse seemed rather thrown together. In fact, his entire endgame was a bit sloppily written. It’s understandable that he wants to rule the multiverse and feels the only possible way to do so is to destroy it other than Earth-1, but his reasoning seemed to not evolve passed just being evil. It was a huge catastrophe to prevent, but it never really felt like it was anything other than a thrown together endgame for Zoom.
Also, the end to Zoom left a lot to be desired. After months of Zoom manhandling and intimidating Barry, the final battle was lackluster in comparison. While the race was highly entertaining, it would have been more interesting for Barry to finally serve Zoom some serious comeuppance in the end. Of course Barry would never kill him, but it would have been a cherry on top for Barry to physically defeat him while displaying his superiority rather than outsmarting him in the end. I feel like we haven’t seen the last of Zoom, but the ending to their battle was a little unsatisfying.
The Flash’s second season has finally come to a close. And while it was a great season overall, the finale pales in comparison to the finale of the first season. Far from being a bad episode, it just wasn’t a big enough payoff for what was an excellent season. But the setup for a huge third season, along with a four episode crossover event that will introduce Supergirl into the Arrowverse properly, We have a lot to look forward to. With all of its issues, The Flash: Race of his life is still a decent ending to what was a stellar season.